Why some women suffer bleeding and cramps in early pregnancy

Dr Rob Hicks explains the reasons behind bleeding and cramping in the first trimester

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What our doctor says…

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“Although it can be alarming, do remember that around 20 per cent of women have spotting. It can be due to the increased blood supply around the cervix, from the changes in hormones, or even after having sex,” says Dr Rob Hicks.

“It’s understandable that you’re worried, but it is always important to mention a bleed to your midwife so that she can rule out any problems, such as an ectopic pregnancy, low-lying placenta or an infection, depending on what stage of pregnancy you’re at,” adds Rob.

“When bleeding occurs later in pregnancy, it can mean there’s a problem with the placenta, so contact your labour ward for advice. And remember, the vast majority of women who experience bleeding go on to have a healthy full-term pregnancy.”

Why am I bleeding?

When you’re pregnant, suffering from cramps or bleeding is bound to get you worried, but it doesn’t always mean problems. As your body adjusts to pregnancy, your hormones can bring on spotting around the time your period is due – known as breakthrough bleeding. This light bleeding should be pain-free and brownish in colour, but if it becomes red or gets uncomfortable, speak to your midwife or GP.

Is it an infection?

Sometimes light bleeding can be the sign of a vaginal infection, such as thrush, which can cause your cervix to become inflamed. If you’re experiencing repeated spotting, ask your midwife to take a swab, so if you do have an infection you can get it treated as soon as possible.

Is it a miscarriage?

The first thing to remember is that the chances of a miscarriage happening are actually much lower than you might think. But, while 75% of women who bleed during pregnancy go on to have healthy babies, sadly there are times when it can be a sign of something more serious. If you notice fresh, red blood with clots, possibly accompanied by pain, it’s best to seek medical advice as this can signal the start of a miscarriage.

Is it an ectopic pregnancy?

Although ectopic pregnancies are rare, occurring one in every 150 pregnancies, they do happen. They occur because the fertilized egg has started to grow outside of the womb and is unviable. If left untreated, it can potentially harm your future fertility. Usual symptoms are bleeding, often described as looking like prune juice, accompanied by a painful cramping in your lower tummy, often on one side. If you’re worried, seek medical advice.

Why am I getting cramps?

Suffering mild cramps is a common pregnancy symptom among mums-to-be and nothing to worry about. The cramping should be milder than your period pains and is a result of your uterus beginning to stretch. But if you have severe or persistent pains, then you should get them checked out by your midwife or GP, especially if the cramps are accompanied by spotting, bleeding, vaginal discharge, fever, faintness or vomiting.

Real mums tell all…

“I didn’t have any with 1st pregnancy but with this current one I had an implantation bleed quite late at around 8 weeks, which caused a bit of panic here but all turned out good in the end!” FlirtyFilly

“In my last pregnancy I had 2 fresh bleeds,one at 7 weeks and one at 13 weeks and passed clots, both times everything was ok and went on to deliver, early but healthy twins.” fall3n-ang3l

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